If we all ate the same and exercised the same we still wouldn’t look the same. And wouldn’t it be dull if we did?! 

So much of the fitness industry, sadly, is geared around ‘selling’ fitness and good nutrition as a means to look a certain way. You see it all the time. Everywhere. The most ridiculous claims such as, ‘I did x twice a day for a month and lost 2 inches from my waist’. Things are improving but you still see so much fitness marketing targeted at women focused on losing fat, building your ‘booty’, flattening your stomach and getting ‘bikini ready’. There is so much wrong with this: pathetic perpetuation of women’s bodies being pressured into conforming and fitting in with constantly changing body ‘trends’; the absurd focus on and judgement of women’s appearance; the continuation of the idea that women all want and need to conform to often ridiculous and unattainable beauty standards etc etc. 

And as well as being archaic, insulting and patronising, this approach to fitness, i.e. using exercise to try and change your body to make it look a certain way, is incredibly difficult to achieve and therefore makes adhering to any kind of ‘plan’ unlikely. If you’re always chasing a dream body you’re almost always going to be disappointed and this is deflating and extremely unenjoyable. Even if you managed to reach a point where you had that ‘dream’ body that wouldn’t be ‘it’, job done. You would then have to maintain that body. 

So instead of exercising to try and look different, a much more sensible objective is exercising to try and feel better. After all, feelings are significantly more important than appearance. While the latter can of course impact the former, appearance is undoubtedly less significant. We tend to think of our bodies as being constant and yet they are actually constantly evolving. If you think back to how you looked 5 years ago, 10 years ago, it probably isn’t exactly the same as you look now. This is particularly true during pregnancy and postpartum when our bodies change vastly over a very short period of time. 

If you exercise to feel fitter and stronger you will, depending on what and how much you’re doing, quite quickly begin to notice positive changes. Progress is undoubtedly one of the greatest motivators. If you can feel the benefits you are so much more likely to stick with it and persevere. Whilst it’s helpful and motivating to have goals, fitness and exercise are not about an end goal. It’s a journey, one that lasts your lifetime. If you are focused on feeling fitter and stronger you will enjoy the journey. You will notice and appreciate the benefits. And finding your body more aesthetically pleasing will very probably be one of these additional benefits. But nothing feels as good as strong. 

If you feel fit and strong it doesn’t matter so much what you look like. If you focus on what your body can do it is hugely rewarding. Fit and strong people come in all sorts of different ‘shapes’ and ‘sizes’. If you haven’t already go to watch a 10k or marathon or something. It’s so inspiring and fascinating how wrong you would probably be if you were to look around and guess who would be faster than whom; appearances can certainly be deceptive! I’ve run many ‘races’ where I’ve overtaken someone younger and more athletic looking and then been overtaken by someone 30 years older and probably 6 stone heavier. It’s wonderful and incredible and proves how meaningless appearances are. 

So, if you want to exercise and actually stick with it, I strongly recommend that you start off feeling excited to find out what your body can do and to aim to feel fitter and stronger. Workout to be able to get out of your armchair unaided if you’re fortunate enough to make it to 80, not to chase a thigh gap! 

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